Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5
USA/United Kingdom, 2021. New Line Cinema, Atomic Monster, The Safran Company, Canadian Film or Video Production Services Tax Credit. Story by James Wan, David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Screenplay by David Leslie Johnson McGoldrick, based on characters created by Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes. Cinematography by Michael Burgess. Produced by Peter Safran, James Wan. Music by Joseph Bishara. Production Design by Jennifer Spence. Costume Design by Leah Butler. Film Editing by Peter Gvozdas, Christian Wagner.
The number one name in ghostbusting power couples, Ed and Lorraine Warren, are back for another adventure helping people solve the mystery of why their furniture keeps moving around the house in the middle of the night, with Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) enlarging her Lawrence Welk Show hairstyles the more her power grows. They take part in the exorcism of a little boy (Julian Hilliard) and the process almost kills them, with Ed (Patrick Wilson) knocked out during the ritual after being the only one to witness the demon leaving the boy but not the room, entering grown up Arne (Ruairi O’Connor) instead. Ed wakes up in the hospital and reports what he saw, but not in time to prevent Arne from committing a gruesome murder while under the influence of Satan, which the Warrens insist be used as defense in court when he is brought up on a murder charge. After the Warrens discover a mysterious talisman on Arne’s property, they investigate other murders of a similar nature on the suspicion that these events are being orchestrated by someone raising dark powers. The plot barely strings together its situations and characters to form a cohesive logic, and as with the previous films uses the Warrens’ (for the most part unverified) claims to add the “based on a true story” label at the beginning (without pointing out that it’s never the most exciting parts of the story that are based on truth). Ridiculous as this film is, it does manage numerous fun scares, and in creating a detective story out of its elements at least manages to carry you through its highly familiar tricks much more successfully than its bloated and overlong predecessors. As always, though, there’s far too little humour to make this pass muster as great entertainment, and the relentless sincerity with which the stars play the Warrens (combined with Farmiga’s magnificent collection of Liberace-worthy blouses) is reaching for parody at this point.